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Indy Explainers | State Government

Indy Explains: New requirements that Nevadans adopt Real ID licenses

People wait at the DMV office in Henderson on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Reno DMV customer Ellen Kraus, 67, held her required documents ready in a large brown manila envelope: proof of identity, Social Security card and two proofs of residency. 

“I definitely need this ID. It’s very important,” Kraus said while waiting in the DMV line late on a recent Wednesday afternoon.

Kraus was anxious to get her Nevada driver's license upgraded to a Real ID so she can travel regularly to the East Coast to be with family following her son-in-law’s recent death. 

The Oct. 1 deadline is coming quickly for those who still need to get their Real ID — an upgraded driver’s license identified by a yellow or black star stamped in the upper right-hand corner. The new identification card will be required for domestic travel via commercial aircraft and for entering any federal buildings or military bases. 

The requirement for an upgraded identification card comes from the 2005 Real ID Act passed by Congress per the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” According to the Department of Homeland Security’s website, “the Act established minimum security standards” regarding driver’s licenses and identification cards and creates more consistency in ID documents from state to state.

The Nevada DMV’s website says that the continued efforts of the federal government through the act “should inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.” According to the DMV, the act was passed with the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror and the Tsunami Relief Act. 

Introduction of the new identification card sparked controversy and confusion among Nevadans in 2005 and for years afterward, prompting lawmakers in 2007 to put forth a resolution calling for the repeal of the Real ID Act. Fears of increased surveillance rippled through the public, with rumors that the federal government was building a national database of drivers’ information and that the new compliance cards would carry a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Chip. 

The Nevada DMV sent out a press release in 2010 to clarify the facts. Officials said that the only difference in the information being collected by the new requirements for the Real ID versus a state issued driver’s license is an electronic verification process. 

The DMV also dispelled rumors about the Real ID Act creating a national database of information and RFID chips. 

“Ironically, banks and credit agencies have far more information on individuals than any DMV does,” the DMV wrote in the press release. As for the chip rumors, the DMV wrote that the regulations “clearly prohibit the use of an RFID chip.” 

The Nevada DMV said it began offering Real ID cards in 2014. 

Failure to have a Real ID by the Oct. 1 deadline will result in the inability to pass through TSA security checkpoints for domestic flights and restricted access into federal facilities, like Social Security offices, military bases or nuclear power plants. A passport will still be required for international travel. 

A passport or other federally approved documentation can also be used in lieu of a Real ID at the airport or federal facilities, depending on the specific agencies’ minimum security access requirements. The Department of Homeland Security recommends contacting a federal agency before visiting to ensure compliance requirements will be met. 

People who are not U.S. citizens but live in the country are also eligible for the Real ID-compliant identification card. People lawfully admitted for permanent or temporary residence, individuals with conditional permanent status, those with an approved application for asylum and refugees are all eligible. 

Cards such as the Nevada Driver Authorization Card, which are available to people regardless of their legal status, will clearly state that they are not acceptable for Real ID purposes and will be differentiated from compliant cards by design or color, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s website. However, DHS “cautions against assuming that possession of a noncompliant card indicates the holder is an undocumented individual,” given that people may carry noncompliant cards for reasons unrelated to legal status. 

The Real ID Act also allows for temporary Real ID-compliant cards to be issued to DACA beneficiaries and TPS-protected applicants. DACA and TPS applicants must provide valid Employment Authorization Documents and Social Security numbers to qualify. 


Documents accepted by the Nevada DMV for Real ID purposes

Proof of identity (1)

An unexpired passport

State issued birth certificate 

Consular report of birth abroad (FS-240) 

(For those born outside of the United States) (1)

Certificate of naturalization (N-550)

Certificate of citizenship (N-560)

Permanent resident card (I-551)

Valid foreign passport with an I-94 stamped with “processed for I-551”

Unexpired employment authorization card (I-766)

Legal name changes (1)

Government issued marriage certificate

Divorce decree

Adoption records

Court order

A DMV employee explained at a community workshop that a passport can bypass any of the above documents, because name changes need to be documented in order to receive a passport.

Proof of social security (1)

Social security card (SSN)

W-2 form

1099 IRS form 

Printed pay stub 

Proof of Nevada residency (2) 

(all must be dated within the last 60 days) 

Bank or credit statement

Employment check stub

Document from state or federal court

Record, receipt or bill from medical provider

Current mortgage deed of trust

Voter registration card

Receipt of benefits from any Nevada public assistance programs

Etc., visit the Nevada DMV website for examples of more documents

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